“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe starts out with verses from “The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats and represents one of the major themes of the book. The title and the opening lines very much portray the matters that went on in the village, making it the bulk of the story. The destruction of personal and public systems that were instilled in time represents the change that is inevitable and can be seen all over the world.
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The book illustrates the time when the white race was settling in new lands and colonizing nations, tribes and individuals. The struggle between the refusal to accept another nation’s way of life and personal hardships is represented through Okonkwo and everything that happens in his family and village. Historically, the time when indigenous people were overtaken by the newcomers can be seen throughout. The first contact was either violent overtake of the land and people or it was the slow convergence to an unknown faith. In “Things Fall Apart” the native people are subjected to a new religion and cannot understand why and how they must accept a new belief system (Achebe 67).
Okonkwo is shown as a strong and rebellious figure who refuses to accept a new way of life and beliefs that are foreign to the native ones. The title signifies the “falling apart” of a previous way of life, the village and Okonkwo’s personal connections. The reality becomes something very different for people, as they are faced with a world of the white people who completely misunderstand and harshly segregate the native population. Even though the villagers want to resist, they are not sure how and thus, focus on adapting to the changing world. There is a direct connection between how the people are separated from their social and cultural lives and how Okonkwo is segregated and cast out of the village due to his actions.
The process of the main character’s division from the world, village and even own family shows how things can really change. The movement of society and individual shift are sudden and so, people are unable to adjust to the new world. Achebe was very specific in choosing such title because for the people and individual characters the world does “fall apart”. When Okonkwo is forced to kill Ikemefuna things really begin to look grim. The depression that follows brings about a completely different life for the character and it leads to a total demise and destruction (Achebe 19).
The beginning, middle, and end of the story are very different. At the start, the reader is unaware of what is to come and when the breakdown of the tribe and individual begins, it is unexpected. At the same time, the reader begins to understand and change with the story where by the end, there is so much pain felt through the villagers and personal struggle. The physical and moral battles that people fight show the true beginning of a changing world where it did not matter how well the society was established, another world overtook without discrimination and mercy.
Chinua Achebe has accomplished the goal of displaying the changing world and detrimental actions of people towards other people. The inevitability and personal struggles are presented as unavoidable, so it is clear how time and circumstances can shape the world and the lives of individuals
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, United States: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1995. Print.